Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Denialism isn't just annoying

or stupid, or perverse. It's downright ugly and evil. I am proximally inspired to these sentiments by this article into today's All the News that Fits, about the efforts of the South African government to ramp up HIV prevention and treatment. The best effort is that 365,000 South Africans died unnecessarily while former president Thabo Mbeki was under the thrall of AIDS denialist Peter Duesberg and other cranks. The harm done to innocent children and families by the deluded cult that blames vaccines for autism belongs to the scientific fraudster Andrew Wakefield and narcissistic upper class twit Robert Kennedy Jr. The catastrophe that looms for the entire planet from anthropogenic climate change might have been averted but for Rush Limbaugh and another crank scientist, Dixie Lee Ray. (Most people don't know about Vulgar Pigboy's seminal role in AGW denialism -- it's well worth publicizing.)

What RFK Jr. and Rush Limbaugh have in common is that they both saw a chance to promote themselves, build a following, and ultimately make money by pretending to be lone crusaders against a deceitful scientific establishment. These "science as conspiracy" theories are nothing but repulsive slurs against people who work hard, generally for quite modest incomes, and who share a culture of dedication to truth. Really. The whole stance is nothing but a scam designed to separate people from their senses as well as their money. Unfortunately, while Kennedy and Limbaugh are just charlatans, they have managed to catch a lot of innocent victims in their net of true belief, and we all have to suffer the consequences. Meanwhile, they go on being rich and influential.


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